tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 13, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
shall security state along with about 41 other books over the last 50 years by my account and i just wanted to start off with this rather the chilling quote that you use right at the very beginning of your book from the vice presidential eni who is describing presidential power cheney style and he talks about the president's power to launch a nuclear war and he says the president doesn't have to check with anybody, he doesn't have to call the congress, he doesn't have to check with the courts. explain why you chose that quote to frame this amazing book. >> guest: well, because he's quite right of course in saying
the power rests in the president and was given to president truman right after world war ii. the argument then was we are in such a new era of atomic warfare that if we were attacked or there was a pending attack or threatened attack there's no time to talk to anybody to consult with congress to get a declaration of war and the president alone has to be a decision right like that and anticipate or retaliate and so at that moment, unusual in history, unique in history, he was given the sole power over the launching of the nuclear attack. consider that, that is an extraordinary thing. >> host: end of the world. >> guest: could be. and of course cheney thought i was the basis of all the presidential power and he had a good reason to think that in the reagan administration's.
people argued the white house that kind of instant retaliation is still necessary, if that if the government were decapitated, the president, the vice president were killed you can't rely on constitutional succession and get the speaker of the house because -- >> host: down the road -- >> guest: he or she doesn't know the mechanical technical things about how to respond to a nuclear attack said they began an exercise, rumsfeld and cheney and other white house staffers were told to go in the middle of the might to an undisclosed location in the beginning of the term, and they planned a nuclear retaliation if there and visors and technicians. they went through the hole drill. they were still practicing in the 60's. what's interesting is cheney did
it in the terrorism attack. he was in the white house -- >> host: september 11th amine? >> guest: he was in the white house and told there were planes, not just one plan but planes going on to make further attacks, and he said we don't have time to ask the president, he's flying somewhere in the world. we have to respond instantly. scooter libby standing at his elbow said he hesitated just that split second a batter hesitates before hitting the ball and ordered the shooting down of planes. and so the jets scrambled but the bomb went down in kansas before they could shoot it down. but in a become he was doing what he planned and practiced to do in the 1960's outside the military chain of command as the 9/11 report should outside the presidential succession because of the bomb power the president has the power over the bombing even though this wasn't a
nuclear attack. cheney equated with a nuclear attack which isn't unusual. it started with the cory in war. secretary of state dean acheson said to truman then this is not a nuclear war. but we have to protect your brand new absolute power over starting war without congress, so don't ask for a declaration of war from congress or even ask for permission or approval or anything and truman didn't and since that time we have had no congressional declaration of war and all the post world war ii period. >> host: you are describing this on the broken us and of the centralized presidential power, you are doing driven by the existence of the bomb and the power of the president to use that bomb. but when cheney says the president doesn't have to check with anybody, isn't he being
somewhat a historical in the sense that presidents, many presidents have checked with a lot of people over the decades of the existence of the bomb and congress has agreed to the deployment and fonted them and there's been something of a -- some shared responsibility; but and you agree? >> guest: some share but as the war powers act. but congress has no authority to share its power. the constitution says congress shall have power to declare war. and it's only because the presidents were declaring a war on their own congress finally said well, let's get a little bit into the act, so they passed the so-called war powers act in which the president is supposed to notify them when they go to war and have a certain period, certain to come back to them and say should i continue this one
no? do you want me to stop? they've never done the second step. never. so that was not very effective obviously. now -- >> host: you make even a stronger our argument in your book that congress actually by passing the resolution that would require congressional action before going to war congress was giving away power. >> guest: it had no right to do it. >> host: win jamie sees that resolution is the ultimate symbol of the restraints on power pulling back -- >> guest: that's right. for decades he was adamant saying we have to appeal that even though it was ineffective. the principal was what mattered. but you can't have any infringement on the president's freedom to act in the the war area, and of course that was atchison's point, it is the principle. he could have got instant approval from congress for the caribbean war and acheson said don't do it because i will give them an excuse to have a say
later on. >> host: is a very direct parallel of the book you quote one of the george w. bush administration lawyers, jack goldsmith, who pulled back some of the more extreme memo is from john yoo cleaning absolute power for the president over detainee's, and i remind the i think the goldsmith is the one who said george w. bush could have gotten 80-90% of the power he sought had he gone to congress, made the case to the public, but the courts and provide some limited court review he could have gotten 80, 90% but the result of the over reach, this is goldsmith's terms to leave the presidency weaker today than when he came in. >> guest: that's true of a lot of presidential power. the various things they took on have backfired over and over and over. for instance now because of the power there's the attitude we've
got to have friendly governments we can rely on to launch and house and protect our nuclear outpost originally the strategic air command or they can land on the fuel and that kind of thing and submarines and missiles and so when president eisenhower came in they said mossadegh in iran has taken over the government and he won't be for a friendly to us because he's not for a friendly to the british taking away their oil rights so we've got to tell him and eisenhower said okay, told the cia to malkoff the government, one of several he did that to. that was the presidential power but what has been the result? ever since iran has been the hornets nest of trouble because we took shaw and they treated us
for the presidential overreaches. >> host: take that for example as one case was that driven by bombing power or by this larger dynamic of fear of communism? expanding american empire, taking the place of the weak british who were sort of exit and the middle east and filling in something eisenhower refused to do initially in vietnam. were there other dynamic -- it was in the barham power driving for other -- system and the fear of communism was always associated with the bomb power. >> host: but was in it the soviet bomb power which is to say whatever it lack of restrictions there are on the united states, you don't have to call to congress of the moment of pushing the button there are fewer restrictions on the soviet general secretary, right? >> guest: but first of all we did the strategic air command and had to have these bases to
handle them and the whole point is we fear the russians because they can attack us with their nuclear weapons therefore we have to have friendly governments to use as response points with them, and the fear of communism after the world war ii lead us to set up the nsa, cia, the loyalty program, classification program, the clearance program, the secrecy surrounding bombing power and all of these fears of russian bomb power so we had to spy on them and ourselves to make sure we were not given the way things to them and once you have set up that apparatus, then it has -- it takes on a life of its own and spreads so that whenever we fear a friendly government will
turn against us, we have to go in and make sure that it either is strengthened, the government, or that we put in a puppet government. and if that doesn't work, one of the more interesting things is there is always a fear that the nation that we are meddling with will turn against us and kick us out to -- >> host: they have done so. >> guest: and so in the 60's is very smart planner said let's go somewhere we don't have to fear the indigenous peoples. let's go to the indian ocean where there's an island called diego garcia, we will make a secret arrangement outside of the congress' approval. we will find it secretly outside of the congress's authorization. we will kick the natives out and confiscate the property and kill their livestock and then declare
of bounds to all journalists and there it is to this day, this very secret locale that we took so we could have a safe place to launch our war activities in the middle east. >> host: almost a blank spot on the map to use a metaphor from old soviet history, blank spots. but let me ask in the debates you are part of particularly with this book but also with a lot of your journalism and your essay writing and your other books on the inventors of america i think is your phrase, lincoln as an inventor, madison, jefferson -- some of the cia in defenders draw on the history to say no the cia is part of a long history. george washington had a secret fund of $1 million appropriated by congress but that is total discretion to pay spa is or more of them ransom hostages from the
barbary pirates, so that's the historical metaphor for a simple lawrence houston in 1947 when they are setting up the cia and he's the clever council says no, we are just doing what the george washington did but he didn't make a reference to leslie growth, the project, he was strolling on the father of the country. how do you respond to that? what is your meeting of washington? >> guest: you said it was secretly appropriated what is appropriated by congress. it's true that and more time shortcuts are taken, extraordinary measures are taken, in an emergency and versions of powers are granted, the constitution is suspended in part. that always happens in the wartime but after the other wartime, there was a return to the constitutional norms afterwards and the president washington was very good at observing the constitution as a president.
after the civil war and wind lincoln had suspended habeas corpus the supreme court declared that unconstitutional. it was a war measure, it was understandable but still unconstitutional and we recognized that but after world war ii we didn't return to the normal because the emergency continued and we went straight from the world war ii to the cold war and then finally into the war on terrorism, and emergency power is that were assumed in the war were inaugurated, kept, and expanded. all of the things leslie gross did were expanded into the nsa is binding on us and others and secrecy especially was expanded so that all of the state secret policies and protection of governmental power by secrecy
has galloped. it didn't slack off after world war ii or after the end of the cold war. patrick moynihan said there should have been a relaxation of the classifying documents. there wasn't, there was acceleration, there was a gallup and that's continued. and the interesting thing is that the justification of secrecy is you can't put your enemy know what you're doing. that's fine. if you're going to attack europe you can't say when and where dee dee is bring to eckert after it occurs there's no reason to keep the secret. >> host: no secret anymore. the enemy knows where you are. >> guest: now we have a situation of which most of the time secrecy does not fool an enemy, it pulls us, the congress, the people. one of my favorite dooms --
doomsberry strips as a person going to cambodia talking to people in front of their ruined homes -- >> host: fred -- >> guest: fred, the terrorist. and he says wow, this is a historic site. this is the site of the secret bombing of cambodia. and the cambodian man says no it wasn't any secret. i said to martha see, there are the bombs dropping on us. the point was to keep it secret from congress, not the cambodians and that's been the case with most secrets, keep it from the american people or congress or the courts. one of the most interesting cases of this is the reynolds versus the u.s. where an air force plane went down and nobody knew why.
some people survive and some people perished. had civilians on board during electronic research and the relatives of the people who perished, the civilians who perished said we are going to sue the air force because some of the survivors said there was bad procedures on the plane. so they sued and the ticket to court and the air force said well you want our officials investigation of that accident. we can't give it to you because it has state secrets. the first courts said perhaps. if so she went to the judge in canada and if he decides in the chamber they are state secrets, then he will either with hold of them were dismissed the suit. and they said no, we won't give it to the judge in his chamber since then it went to the supreme court and this was during the korean war, chief john justice vincent and the air force said the same thing and the supreme court said we cannot
destroy the moral of the air force during wartime so we are not even going to ask so that ended it for awhile. then 15 years or so later that investigation was declassified. routinely declassified because people didn't realize what was in that and other relatives looked at it now and saw that there were no state secrets but there was overwhelming evidence of criminal neglect. pos could airforce. >> guest: yes, the plan was in bad trouble and had fires before. people were not informed on the procedures for jumping out with parachutes and they were not told the exit areas and the exit areas or blocked was the had a very strong case and it was taken back to the supreme court and the supreme court said know we still can't consider it because ted olson which shows up like kilroy, said there might
not have been direct evidence of state secrets but from what was said there might be a hint you could look for it somewhere else and this was called the mosaics. you have one little pebble you can reconstruct the whole mosaic, and therefore -- >> host: knott while thinking. >> guest: and therefore the case was upheld, the dismissal, and that has been used as a precedent over and over. it was a blatant lie, a way to protect the government but it is used to protect the government ever since. well, we have that as a constant in our post world war to life. there was this tremendous suspicion the loyalty investigations, the clearance investigations, the classifications, and so moynihan had a very good point about the bay of pigs that the premise of the bay of pigs was a to put
this band of cubans into the bay they will provoke rebellion against fidel castro. moynihan said every academic expert, every pollster who's done work in cuba, every journalist whose own work in cuba said that at that point fidel castro is immensely popular. he couldn't have overthrown him. he said why didn't kennedy pay any attention to that? because that was all unclassified information. >> host: therefore not important? >> guest: therefore not important so when he went to his generals and cia he said we have all the secrets. they don't have them. and of course that is what lyndon johnson said during the vietnam war. if you know what i know -- but you can't of course. >> host: at the bay of pigs the recent scholarship also suggested one of the reasons they went ahead with it is they also expected if not an uprising a successful assassination of castro street and the mafia working on the secret plots as well. a combination -- biskupic could
do that without the invasion though. they treated it over and over. >> host: hundreds of times. >> guest: that's another example. president kennedy said there is no -- wind the cubin missiles were put in cuba, there is no conceivable defensive justification for the missiles being there so they obviously are offensive. they are there just to attack us. well, there was a very conceivable defensive reason. fidel castro knew they were plotting his assassination and sele touching his crops and minding his harbors and so he thought there was an invasion coming. and he had to protect himself the we he knew how. after all it was informally in his interest to make himself a target for nuclear war on that little island. but he went along with khrushchev because he knew or fault that there was an attack coming. so kennedy lied to the american people and said there is no conceivable defensive reason and
fidel castro knew that and khrushchev knew that but we didn't know it. >> host: what if khrushchev put in some tactical nukes, short-range? ones that wouldn't reach a plant or washington? wouldn't you have, you know, cuba would have been well protected from a u.s. invasion -- >> guest: that's from the to the point of view, but he wanted -- khrushchev didn't want to threaten us because he wanted us to remove our turkish missiles threatening him. >> host: he also knew how far he was behind the nuclear arms race, there was no gap, he was way behind. >> guest: so there are two motives at work and we were kept out of both of them. so this goes on over and over and over in this period. when the first bush was thinking of the kuwait war, he did consult congress and said let's do this. admiral crowell, former head of
joint chiefs of staff testified before the congress wait a minute there is good reason to prolong the sanctions and just to see if they might work. secretary of state jim baker came back to the same can be the next day or after and said well, admiral crounse no longer has clearance to read the cables so his opinion is not with anything. >> host: he's not in the open and more. >> guest: meter are you or neither am i or anybody so we all have to depend on this priesthood of secrets. they are the only ones qualified to judge our fate and that is where the secrecy has taken. >> host: dena patrick moynihan would say and he wrote this on his book of secrecy, not that secrecy was born of the bombing power but was born from the universal laws of bureaucratic power and that you look around at the states for more secret than ours that don't have the
bomb and yet they've seized on secrecy as the tool for the control of the population of their debates etc.. so how do you make that connection? >> guest: he quotes the democratization. sure, that is a universal tendency and that certainly prolong it. but what happened after world war ii is this was a secret on such a different scale from anything but a week in invented the nsa, cia and these a lot classification loyalty tests. all those things and they were all around the idea that the bomb is something we have to protect and deployed and feingold what everybody else knew about, so some have said after world war ii there would have been this kind of concentration of power which is true -- >> host: just because the size of the state?
the size of the mobilization? >> guest: that often leads to a war on to demobilization and reconversion as it did in england. they threw out churchill and they didn't have the kind of secrecy explosion we had because the didn't have the bomb, they didn't have the secret to keep. and you have to remember the manhattan project was an awesome thing and it impressed the government people for a long, long time as it should have. it was an unparalleled thing the concentration of talent and resources and money was kept secret and 80 locales, three big ones with thousands of people working in all of them, general groves in charge of his own private airforce, had his spy
system abroad as well as at home, spite of americans in and out of the project, set off an assassination to killed the beat coca heisenberg -- was with the german physicist. against this was outside the chain of command. few people knew about it even superiors in the army and he appointed his own successor. he said if i, if i get poisoned or something like that there is no one else who has all this so i will train up and appoint him. congress will have nothing to do with it even the president will have nothing to do with it and he will take over for me. now that was an extraordinary thing and it worked. that is what was so fascinating and kind of seductive that if we want to have this kind of control maybe we have to do with the manhattan project did and that's how the president was
given the sole command of the bomb the way groves had to read that as of ancillary growth. gross said it's not enough for me to make the bomb. i have to get in there. so he had his own air force. he took plane's right off the production line and had them aside and in secret bases fleeing with pilots not knowing why they were doing this. he got the island as a launch place and flew missions over japan dropping dummy bombs to make sure everything would work out. >> host: all shrouded. >> guest: yeah, nobody knew. senator truman, investigating military expenditures never knew. vice president truman never knew until he became president and then they broke the news to him. [laughter]
>> host: hello? here's the bomb, you're in charge. well, we've got to take a short break. stay with us. we will be right back. >> "after words" and a number of other c-span programs are available for download at podcast. more whiff garry wills and garrey in just a moment. "after words" with garry wills and garry blanton continues. >> host: welcome back. we are here talking with garry
wills, t of speed line. i would like to return to the exploration you have done on the founders of america and talk a little bit about how did washington, madison, lincoln see the role as commander in chief and how did it change since then? what about washington have done if he had the power? >> guest: its start with commander in chief, that's an interesting term. it's a historic term from the british usage and it meant when you had several ed models in the sumeria of the ocean and they have equal rank the government would say what will be commander in chief for this operation in the theater for that time. that is the commander in chief met and when washington went to boston their work militia generals and other competing authorities -- >> host: appointed by the states.
>> guest: you will be commander in chief, so when the constitution was drawn up, they said the president shall be commander in chief of the military. they meant out war because they didn't think there'd be a standing army in peace time just in the war or of the state militia of when called into service by the nation, chris would call them into service. so he's not even commander in chief of the national guard unless congress has nationalized the national guard. he's only the commander of the military, but since world war ii, he's become the commander in chief and there has been a very deliberate effort to make in that. >> host: meaning all americans as opposed -- you wrote a controversial op-ed piece pointing this out and do good reaction. >> guest: angry letters. i said he's not my commander in chief because i'm a civilian, he still the commander-in-chief of
any civilian. i got a letter saying if he's not a commander in chief use of american, get out of the country but now he has become that, and -- post could you send a copy of the constitution? >> guest: that would work. that hasn't worked for many decades. but that donald rumsfeld said we kept that historic usage for a long time right up until the second bush administration because we had sync pact, commander in chief and the pacific and so our men over in europe would be the commander in chief of the nato forces or whatever and rumsfeld said no we are going to get rid of those titles because there should be only one commander in chief. and making the president commander-in-chief now we even have the acronym scotus, supreme commander of the united states.
>> host: i like potus a lot better. [laughter] >> guest: john adams got in trouble for suggesting we should call him the excelencia to realize it that isn't a republican tidal. neither is scotus. but now, we are often told election time we are choosing commander in chief at the bottom, the man with the bomb, choosing the man with a football and you remember in the saturday night massacre when nixon wanted to get rid of archibald cox as the independent counsel he had general haig called the justice the board and say tire cox and richardson didn't and then recalls house didn't and he said you have to fire him, you are commander in chief has given you in order. well, ruckus house was a civilian, he was the commander in chief, but the order of a commander in chief which certainly began out of his control of the bomb and then the war making power in korea is
such now that we even get the president saluted when he comes off the plane or his helicopter. saluting is something you do to the uniform, the military uniform. a general out of uniform is not saluted. the president is saluted out of uniform now since reagan and the interesting thing is -- >> host: human nixon didn't manage to get himself saluted? >> guest: noeth. cresco only since reagan. >> guest: the thing is the president is not a military officer of any kind and that was proved in the case of new york. his estate, part of the wind of a state he had in new york said we should have a tax break given to people for military service and the court decided his military service is long ago and he got a pension for that but as the president he's not a military officer at all, he
doesn't take military pay, he doesn't get a military pension, he can't be court-martialed, he is a civilian and the constitution gives him that very limited control over the military. in the war the first thought and perhaps sometimes over the national guard. but it is a unique thing. it is a civilian office over the military but it's not a military officer for the military. and that constitutional point was ingenious of the founders and we are proud for a long time we had civilian control of the military in our system of government. >> host: because they were deliberately setting out to prevent monarchical control. that was what they were pushing against. >> guest: they didn't want a man on horseback >> host: about the transition between the point of independence and what is now seen as the ineffectual articles of confederation until finally they did create a stronger
central office, unitary, single -- >> guest: it was mainly stronger the congress. remember madison's objection of the articles was sent over anything in the executive branch. it was they couldn't get money, requisitions from the states were not paid any attention to so he wanted the compass to have the control over the federal money and he said in a republic of the legislative necessary predominance so when they were treating a strong government they didn't think they were creating a strong executive they were creating a strong legislative. >> host: but washington himself, george washington took some unilateral actions. he stopped sending -- using the advice part of the treaty process; isn't that correct? dispute with congress? >> guest: that isn't true. what happened is the treaty was ratified by the senate as it should have been and madison who
is now in the house and drew up the constitution didn't like the treaty, he did hamilton's role so he demanded the record of the negotiations leading up to the treaty. washington said that's not in the constitution. horse has no power over the ratification of a treaty and madison got a very pingree and washington and released the part of the debates on the constitution a much madison said the very thing that only the senate has control over the ratification in the treaty and madison got upset and said he broke the trust he wasn't going to release this information. so he didn't break the constitution at all. it was madison who was trying to. >> host: speak to the secrecy even over the constitutional convention which was those records were not ultimately released until what, 20, 30 years later? >> guest: you know why. >> host: some of the
securocrats went back and say they are good reasons for secrecy. >> guest: that is why they are under the constitution of course. of a pre-existing the constitution and it was in a regular procedure by the articles. they were breaking the articles, they were in effect created trees in -- >> host: but internal so while people looked back -- >> guest: it was a revolutionary act but -- under the constitution you can't say you have a right to resolution under the civil law. keenan. now what happened is that madison when he went to the philadelphia convention had a much stronger government in mind. he wanted to have federal between state legislation. now, that would have been
impossible to pass and what have damned if the constitution of people knew he had been aiming it that that is why he wanted it kept secret, and he got washington to say take it back to mount vernon and don't release it. >> host: the proceedings. >> guest: yes because it would be really damaging to him and the constitution and the whole process, and there is no record madison it saw the pledge, and when madison was going against what he has said i think it is quite justifiable. washington at that plant thought he had been betrayed by madison on many grounds and stopped talking to him and stopped letting him come to mount vernon. there was a big break because medicine at jefferson's prodding had published synonymous things attacking washington which was a really personal act of treachery
and washington never forgave him. but anyway, to use that as some kind of a precedent for the constitution makes no sense at all. >> host: whether about losing purchase by jefferson or habeas corpus? >> guest: the louisiana purchase wasn't war so what relevance does that have? >> host: it's just a unilateral expression of presidential power, not war, right? >> guest: well, yeah begin this is something he could've gotten permission if he wanted but he thought there was no time to read he wanted a constitutional amendment. that is what he first proposed and his advisers said to him and we won't have time to get napoleon to go along with it if you start doing this he will think that you are shilly-shallying but as i said it's not war powers of people who bring that up as an exit look presidential war power are stretching it. >> host: habeas corpus suspension by lincoln -- >> guest: that's totally unconstitutional and the supreme court later said so. if he thought was necessary as a
war measure, we often have war measures that are on constitutional committee japanese during world war ii. what's interesting about them, the manhattan project is we had a constitutional procedures that got prolonged into the peace time. >> host: what i found interesting on the history that you cite like the great stanton norris biography of leslie groves he describes the secrecy practices that leslie adopted in the manhattan project as having been created by the scientists themselves as a voluntary system starting as far back as 1938, 39 for the fear the nazis might be pursuing the bomb so they created this secrecy precisely -- >> guest: that was a mutual pledge among themselves of cooperation. i didn't give him authority as their boss and they chafe against that, against the censorship, all of their letters
were read, all of the actions were spied on and they didn't like that. that was a different thing but sure, in the fellowship of the scientists who wanted to protect their mutual interests, that's understandable but that is hardly what groves was exercising. he wanted to draft them and do all kind of things. he threatened anybody who left the project but they would be drafted in the military and sent to a remote base. he was a total autocrat. >> host: there's a wonderful list he wrote in a letter to his son where his son asked why all the secrecy and he says the germans, number to the japanese and number three the russians, number for the allies, number five the congress and anybody else who might interfere. and down the list was the owner staff, the way to control our own staff. >> guest: and he was so aware having kept all of this from congress and having broken the constitutional procedure so much
he would be held accountable if he didn't win. that is the rush to drop the bomb was so great with him and with oppenheimer and truman and his advisers because they knew when all of this came out if they got the bomb and they didn't use it the reaction among the people especially, you know let's say there was an invasion and lives were lost the people whose lives were lost would say you have this bomb? you spend all that money, you concentrate all that talent and drew away from the other things in the war effort? and didn't use it? it's very likely the president would have been in peach and grow this would have been court-martialed. so they felt they had to use the bomb period >> host:our site evidence in your book from the strategic bombing survey in fact japan was on its way to surrender. this is a much larger controversy than we probably want to get into but it was
fascinating to me because even the decision to drop the bomb wasn't seen in the morrill terms we look at it today. they had already crossed the barrier of the mass civilian casualties with firebombings and the targeting this so there wasn't a bright line that we are now trying to impose back if you will. let me ask this in my reading of the various bomb in the nuclear history documents whether it is kissinger and nixon conversation with the lakner strategy papers the thing that jumps out at me is most of the bomb managers thought the problem was it was on usable, but it wasn't actually a real deterrent, that there was no way you could credibly threaten the end of the world as we know it and so they sought for years and years and years of your options of the limited tactical battlefield nukes and finally the precision guided conventional weapons like we use today on the cruise missiles this has all been a push by the managers who
basically didn't see the bomb as a credible within. >> guest: that was true especially after the hydrogen bomb. hydrogen bomb scare everybody. it was called a genocidal bomb. that got destructive. the atom bomb people like meets the who went and investigated the ruins in japan said you know, they recovered, we can use it, he wasn't afraid of using the atom bomb but was afraid of using the hydrogen bomb but it's interesting that as you say that the dates that came later didn't occur to them. for instance we are often told why didn't they do a demonstration of the power of the bomb or wait until after the first bomb to find out if japan would surrender? those things were not really on the board. as far as the demonstration goes, oppenheimer himself said what if it doesn't work? or what if it's not so destructive as we think? then we will have said watch
this big thing that will show what we can do and will fizzle. there was always the fear that it wasn't going to work because of parole trinity was a very controlled experiment. if you weren't dropping it you had the weather control, you had this little town or -- oppenheimer also wanted to drop them both on the same day, the first two bombs. >> host: two different designs. >> guest: and groves said know you have to drop the first one to see if it works and correct anything that doesn't work before we drop the second one but the idea of waiting after the first one never occurred. they were always going to be used and they thought the second one would be more powerful and would give the idea that there is an infinite escalation actually because of the weather conditions and where they dropped. it wasn't as powerful as the first one but anyway there was
no -- when truman authorized dropping of the bomb as dropping both bombs it was all a package deal. >> host: the other great nuclear documents that have struck me so much recently have been the reagan gorbachev's discussions, rick of and geneva, it is just as clear and articulate did they both believe nuclear weapons are immoral. they both agree the nuclear war can't be won in any sense of the word and they come at, and these are the folks who actually have the bomb power both president and secretary. why would they give up the bomb power if it is that the essential to their authority? >> guest: well, remember when i talk about a bomb power i don't mean simply the president, i mean the whole national security state apparatus that was set up originally because the bomb and that continues even if they gave up the use of the bomb they wouldn't give up all of the spies, security, other
things that grew out of the bomb power, and in our case, the militarization of the nation, the militarization of the chief executive, but would continue even aside from the bomb. >> host: but are deeply that kind of signal particularly from reagan and i offered this in some of the new book that is coming out, gave gorbachev a sense of greater security or addressed directly the soviet insecurity about the american threat and so it helped him demilitarize. in fact you could argue the american side could have gone much further in helping gorbachev to militarize so he was able in certain ways to turn loose of eastern europe in the berlin wall 20 years ago and so why isn't that -- you and your book on a very pessimistic note about the persistence of the national-security apparatus and the bomb, and get that dynamic
between reagan and gorbachev suggests there is an alternative mode of actually addressing not only the bomb but also the militarization of the societies. >> guest: i would go with the first part but not the second. demilitarization of the society continues and i think a perfect example of that is the current performance of president obama. he came in saying we've got to get rid of conditions and torture and military tribunals and don't ask don't tell and all these other things, and then he instantly started backing off. why did he do that? >> guest: a president who comes and now finds himself with this huge security apparatus are not the world in a secret in higher, and his people come to him, cia people and say we've got thousands of assets out there, took them a long time to build them up. if you demoralize them, if you
cut them loose they will start revealing all of these secrets, you are probably going to need us down the road. why cut us off at the knees? and that is a tremendous pressure on president. you know, if you don't play your role the whole thing is going to crumble and you are going to crumble with it. i think that, you know, when you consider that we have more contractors and afghanistan and iraq than we have military people, that means we've got this kind of uncontrollable octopus, and a president finds himself the victim of his own instruments, and that is double long-term result of the power. we set up all of these instruments for controlling the world and spying and controlling and keeping secrets, and now it's almost impossible to
dismantle. >> host: and yet even that apparatus we have seen in waves and if you look at these statistics on covert operations or i would argue with you about the 1990's for example. there was a significant drop in the classification and huge rise in the declassification and even under obama today we have these classic examples i even brought one, this is totally blacked out document by president bush almost completely released by president obama on torture, enhanced interrogation techniques. to me to take a much more positive lesson out of that that you can't actually make change, yes it is a permanent struggle but it's not a permanent losing battle. >> guest: on the other hand some of the more strenuous efforts to cut back the extension of the powers, the war power act, the church committee
really didn't have much effect in the long run it for the long while they were observed, but after the church committee said we can't engage in all of these cia activities, moynihan had to resign from the committee because the clu -- pc at the cia was lying to him, so it's very hard to cut back on. i hope it can be done and various efforts have had a partial success. >> host: i just look at even the problem i think that you have written so eloquently about the founders restrain power and set up a government that both could deliver what the citizens needed from the government, but yet was not too powerful, didn't bring back that that core problem the strain on power we still face it today but we have succeeded in certain ways over the long term and i would argue democratizing
even policymaking whether it is expansion of the vote fun expansion of the policy debate and a look at the difference between the policy debate of the 1980's that kept ronald reagan from doing more massive mossadegh's in central america for a sample. it didn't prevent a mass slaughter by the domestic security forces. there was a very different discussion than the discussion before the bay of pigs or the discussion in the united states about iran and i look at this almost as the democratization of the policy process that works in the other direction from bombing power and from total control. do you not see that? >> guest: it's true that iran contra was punished but it took place. and people are still by and large excluded from the policy discussion. the baker and crowell example is we are still not allowed into
the interest income of secrets so it's difficult for the citizenry to do that. now what you're talking about about the democratization of america, i totally agree with and argue about in other ways. manly that has been a matter of bottom-up activity. for instance, never in history has a government been so aware of human rights as ours, women's rights, civil rights, black rights, native american rights, gay rights, disabled rights etc. that has been the bottom-up agitation in the democratization but the policy controlled at the top doesn't seem to have the same dynamic to me. >> host: i remember this quote from h.r. haldeman in response to the papers and to describe the case in the book where he says the problem here out of all of the gobbledygook is the end
of the idea of the infallibility of the president. it's fascinating. but to me it says that was in many respects the problem with presidential power, and i just look at something like the clinton experience and you wrote about this quite actively even defending clinton in the 1990's, some very famous essays here at his low point of power he is able about to be impeached come able to drop the missiles on the mud huts all around the other side of the world. extraordinary expansion but it's not necessarily the nuclear bomb. >> guest: i keep saying bomb power doesn't mean you use the bomb, it's not even a -- it's all the consequences of the bomb which live with us. even when you're not dropping a bomb. all of these things set up to protect the mom and deploy the bomb and spy on the bomb, those are what live on.
>> host: you mentioned in another one of your interviews of one of your tunnell and friends went to los alamos. >> guest: she wasn't a child and friend, she's a current friend. i didn't know her back then but she lived there, she grew up seven, eight, 9-years-old. >> host: this is a mission? >> guest: she grew up in los alamos, she's a friend of mine now with the northwestern. and of course she didn't know what was happening. i said to do what you're father was doing, he's a famous physicist, and she said no, and i don't think my mother knew. and the secluded world she described is amazing. she was cut off from her previous friends. she didn't get things like comic books and all that kind of stuff. there was a cocoon that they lived in, and their bigot venture was to dig out from under -- there were three rings of fences and they would dig out
from one and go down the cliff and play in the cave but they had to watch to see the petrels, by. but that is said to an interesting thing to think about the world was going on she is my expect contemporary. i was growing up in michigan, spotting enemy planes as was told to do, and watching all of my heroes like sherlock holmes fight the nazis, and she was in this odd cocoon she didn't know what on earth was happening. the gatekeeper at los alamos had a son in her teens by the time the bomb dropped and she said to him that is our bomb. he didn't know what they had been working on. >> host: thank you, garry wills for a much for spending less time with us and i hope that you have all enjoyed it as much as i did. thank you.
a doctorate bellevue the nation's oldest public hospital in new york city tells of her care of immigrant patience and the difficulties of treating non-english-speaking patients. politics and prose in washington, d.c. hosts this 45 minute event. >> are you all set? okay. we can start. im barbara mead, one of the owners of politics and prose, and this evening i want to
welcome danielle ofri. danielle is one on a rather long list of doctors, literary doctors who have visited politics and prose, and actually just earlier this month we had otto talk about his book and there's a number of other literary doctors who find -- that have been here to politics and prose find their names on the book where they have high words of praise for the jerome gripman and abraham, they are all doctors we know well here at the store. danielle ofri is also a literary doctor in that she is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of the bellevue literary review. she brought copies of it here this evening. you can see it.
and it's been going for almost a decade now. i think that's quite an achievement to keep a literary review going for almost over a decade when you're practicing medicine at the same time. and also from her two previous books which are appear she has had essay's selected that have been in the best american essays, the best american science essays as well as the new wrinkle in the journal of medicine. one of the things i was interested in reading her book is that she confides every tuesday she writes and practices the cello. so she is a many side doctor. danielle has practiced medicine at bellevue of new york city for almost two decades, and she works in an